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Transportation Security Administration

TSA explains security protocols for travelers departing U.S. airports

Local Press Release
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is predicting that this summer will be the busiest on record with more 2.2 million people going through airport security checkpoints every day nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day. On peak travel days, that number will swell to more than 2.7 million people.

TSA will be prepared and staffed for the increase in travelers, but will also be relying on travelers to be prepared for the security screening process. Here are some tips and explanations that will help travelers in general screening lanes understand the reasons behind some of the security screening protocols that are in place.

Removing shoes

TSA’s protocols require that passengers remove their shoes so they can be screened through an X-ray machine. This stems from an incident in December 2001 when a terrorist attempted to detonate an explosive device in his shoe while onboard a flight from Europe to the United States. Today, travelers are asked to remove shoes so TSA officers are able to identify whether there is an anything suspicious or dangerous concealed inside of the shoe. It is helpful to wear slip-on shoes so that they can be easily removed for screening.

Liquids, gels and aerosols

TSA limits the quantity of liquids in carry-on bags because in summer 2006, a plot to detonate larger quantities of liquid explosives onboard an aircraft was identified and thwarted just a few weeks before the plot was executed. The liquids restriction was put into place at that time and remains in place today. TSA requires travelers to place liquids, gels, creams and aerosols in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) in checked luggage. This includes items like jams, sauces, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, shaving cream and more. When traveling with liquids in a carry-on, make sure they are in quantities of 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less and secured in a quart-size bag for screening.

Laptops and electronics

TSA is aware that terrorists have the technical capability to artfully conceal explosive devices inside electronics. Travelers should be ready to remove laptops and personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from carry-on bags. Removing these items and placing them in a bin with nothing above or below each item allows the TSA officer to view a clear X-ray image of those items to ensure that nothing dangerous has been artfully concealed. Common items that may look harmless may have, in fact, been tampered with. Procedures for screening electronics larger than a cell phone have been in place since the fall of 2017.

“If you See Something, Say Something”

As a reminder, public awareness is key for supporting TSA’s security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember, “If You See Something, Say Something™.”

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